Bipolar Disorder Community
Does alcohol affect lithium levels?
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Does alcohol affect lithium levels?

I'm 18 and have been taking lithium ever since I was 14. Does drinking alcohol affect the lithium levels? I'm in no means an alcoholic because I have never even tried alcohol but I want to but if it is really harmful to those taking lithium I will back out. Any suggestions would be nice. Thanks in advance.
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585414_tn?1288944902
Yes it can so avoiding drinking is a good idea.
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905918_tn?1251459429
I am 27yrs old i have been on lithium since i was 16yrs old...it is always good to aviod any drugs or drinking... i am not condoning this but i use to have 1 or 2 here and there and my doc said that was okay as long as u donot drink daily or every weekend but to be careful i would not do anything.... hope this helps

Julie
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691509_tn?1251617954
hi.  my pdoc explained that while alcohal (alcohol) doesn't interact negatively with Lithium, it does dilute it, so it does affect your levels.  He said that drinking a little is ok, but remember that alcohal (alcohol) is dehydrating, which is also dangerous when you're on Lithium.

If you can, avoid it as much as possible.  A little won't hurt you but don't make a habit of it.  And don't use it as medicine (self-medicate).
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883607_tn?1241851111
It it is important to maintain stable lithium serum levels in your blood.
Diuretics affect these levels and alcohol has a diuretic effect.

As long as you are responsible about your alcohol intake, I believe it is ok.

Different story with depakote (no)

Driving cars is dangerous, but if you are careful, you'll get by.
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924126_tn?1253207865
I have two or three drinks when I really want to unwind.
Then to bed.
Im 44 now, and its been a long road. I never drank except when I went out.
Now at home being I have raised children for 18 years feel I can handle it.
I do ok. If you havent started. Enjoy life as is. Do something you enjoy doing.
You can do with out in my opinion. If you start limit it to 2-3 max.
Good Luck Missy
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Avatar_f_tn
I'm 29 and I take 600 mg of lithium a day.  I used to enjoy drinking when I was younger (not getting super wasted but I liked my wine and beer), but since I've been on lithium I can't handle wine, and forget about liquor/spirits - zero.  Why?  First of all because of constipation.  Alcohol combined with lithium is dehydrating!  But I also have stopped drinking because it's not fun anymore... Once a few months after I started taking lithium I had 2 glasses of wine at a party (at that point I was on 900 mg).  Bad idea.  I did not feel tipsy or funny like I used to feel (and that has been my experience ever since).  And then I was suffering from colonic distress as a result, and I just felt ****** the next couple of days (not exactly hung over but dull, depressive).  Every time since then that I've had just one glass it's had a similar effect.  Beer is not so bad on the digestive system but it does affect my mood so I avoid it.  Now if there's wine in a social situation with people I can't tell I'm on lithium, I sip a little alcohol and drink a lot of water in between sips and I consume one small glass of wine maximum.  But I only do that to be polite, because I no longer get any pleasure from drinking.  The price to pay for sanity!
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Avatar_m_tn
DO NOT EVER GIVE SUCH TERRIBLY DANGEROUS AND POTENTIALLY LETHAL ADVICE TO ANYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nobody and I repeat NOBODY should be taking advice from random idiots who PRETEND to know anything, but clearly know nothing about the topics they chime in upon!

If you want MEDICAL ADVICE, consult a DOCTOR!!!!!!! Web MD, NAMI, and other REAL organizations online are at least going to provide better advice than some stupid blog where anyone with a computer can post ANY random thoughts in their heads!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ANY medications, ESPECIALLY psychotropic medications ARE in fact changing the physiology of your body, so YES IT IS DANGEROUS to drink under these medications.

ALCOHOL IS A DEPRESSANT.
ALCOHOL IS A BLOOD THINNER.
ALCOHOL HAS MOOD ALTERING PROPERTIES.
ALCOHOL WITHOUT PRESCRIPTIONS CAN BE
DEADLY TO YOUR LIVER AND KIDNEYS
AND LITHIUM AND DEPAKOTE AND
OTHER BIPOLAR TREATMENTS
REQUIRE
REQUIRE
REQUIRE
BLOODWORK TO WATCH YOUR LIVER AND KIDNEYS!!!!

Why would these tests be REQUIRED if there isn't a danger????!!!!!

Use your common sense and DO NOT SOLICATE MEDICAL ADVICE FROM BLOGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sheesh.

BE CAREFUL!!!!!
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Avatar_m_tn
Lithium carbonate is a salt and acts like other salts (such as sodium) in the body. Any change in the balance between body salts and liquids (mostly water) in the body can change the amount of lithium carbonate in the blood. Lithium carbonate blood levels need to be kept within a safe range. High levels can cause serious side effects, EVEN DEATH; low levels can cause symptoms of mania or depression. You will need to learn how to keep your lithium carbonate blood levels at a safe and effective level and to recognize the signs of high lithium carbonate, which include drowsiness, muscle twitching, and diarrhea.
It is very important to have your blood tested regularly (from every week to every 6 or 12 months) to check lithium carbonate blood levels.
You also need to be aware of the following.
• Because lithium carbonate may make you tired and less alert, avoid driving a car or using other dangerous machinery until you know how lithium affects you. WITHOUT ALCOHOL IN THE MIX
• Do not drink alcohol if you are taking lithium carbonate. Lithium can hide the signs of alcohol intoxication; your blood alcohol levels could become DANGEROUSLY high if you drink while taking this medicine.
• Always seek medical treatment if you notice signs of too much lithium in the blood.
• Always tell each health professional who treats you that you are taking lithium carbonate. Taking certain medicines can interfere with the amount of lithium in your blood. Some medicines can cause your lithium blood level to get too high and other medicines can cause it to get too low.
http://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/lithium-carbonate

Bipolar disorder affects more than two million Americans each year, but individuals with this disorder can lead fulfilling lives when they receive proper treatment. Unfortunately, many people with this illness do not receive PROPER treatment.
What is the most important information I should know about lithium?
Do not stop taking lithium or change your dose without first talking to your healthcare provider.
In order for lithium to work properly, it should be taken every day as ordered by your healthcare provider.
Periodically, your healthcare provider may ask you to provide a blood sample to make sure the appropriate level of medication is in your body and to assess for side effects, such as changes in blood counts.
Exposure to lithium during the first three months of pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of birth defects
Avoidance of sodium is necessary to prevent lithium toxicity.
• If you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs

What should I avoid while taking lithium?
Avoid drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs while you are taking lithium. They may decrease the benefits (e.g., worsen your symptoms) and increase adverse effects (e.g., sedation, dizziness).
Avoid excessive intake of caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, tea, cola or energy drinks, since these may decrease levels of lithium and decrease effectiveness of the medication
What happens if I overdose with lithium?
If an overdose occurs call your doctor or 911. You may need urgent medical care. You may also contact the poison control center at 1 (800) 222-1222.
Overdosing with lithium may lead to: confusion, difficulty concentrating, sluggishness, vomiting, diarrhea, poor coordination, tremor and muscle weakness or twitching. In severe cases, people can develop abnormal heart rhythm, seizures. COMA AND DEATH ARE ALSO POSSIBLE.

A specific antidote for lithium does not exist.

What are possible side effects of lithium?
Sedation, nausea, loss of appetite, mild diarrhea, dizziness, fine hand tremors, increased production of urine and excessive thirst are common side effects.
In rare cases, lithium may lead to a reversible condition known as diabetes insipidus. If this occurs you would notice a drastic increase in thirst and how much fluid you drink as well as how much you urinate.
Hypothyroidism and other thyroid conditions may occur with long term lithium use.
To date, there are rare kidney problems associated with long term use of lithium. Generally, it is a safe and effective medication WHEN USED AS DIRECTED.
What other medications may interact with lithium?
There are a number of medications which can increase the amount of lithium in the body. These include:
• Diuretics: hydrocholorothiazide (Microzide), furosemide (Lasix), bumetanide (Bumex), torsemide (Demadex), acetazolamide (Diamox), chlorothiazide (Diuril), and chlorthalidone (Thalitone)
• Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) including: ibuprofen (Advil); naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn); celecoxib (Celebrex); diclofenac (Voltaren); and nabumetone (Relafen) ASPIRINS
• Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs): valsartan (Diovan), olmesartan (Benicar), candesartan (Atacand), losartan (Cozaar)
• Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors: enalapril (Vasotec), captopril (Capoten), benazepril (Lotensin), fosinopril (Monopril)
Some substances may decrease the amounts of lithium in the body, examples include:
• Caffeine CAFFEINE  
• Theo–Dur®, Slo–Bid® (theophylline)

http://www.nami.org/Content/ContentGroups/Helpline1/Lithium.htm
NAMI – National Alliance on Mental Illness

Combining lithium and alcohol can have serious risks and may make the medication less effective.
Lithium is a salt and can create severe problems if too much water or salt is lost, a common problem when combining lithium and alcohol. The medication also acts as a sedative, which can be increased if the patient consumes alcohol.
The combination of lithium and alcohol can lead to a dangerous condition known as LITHIUM TOXICITY if too much of the drug builds up in the body. Alcohol can cause dehydration, depriving the body of the necessary water levels to process lithium and keep the drug at safe levels. Lithium toxicity symptoms include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, and tremors or muscle twitches. Patients who experience symptoms of lithium toxicity, particularly after drinking alcohol, should seek emergency medical attention to prevent coma and kidney problems.
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-the-risks-of-combining-lithium-and-alcohol.htm
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